A small internationally recruited group is being formed to attempt to design a new oar and oarlock system for the St Ayles skiff. This is not in any way a small task, because they are going to be asked to come up with something so good that in the long term everyone will be keen to adopt it! Luckily there will be some brilliant people in the group, and they will be supported by a wider pool of dedicated skiffies who have built and rowed with a variety of oars.
This follows on from feedback sought and received on the current measurement rules after the 2016 racing season. The following resolution was passed at the SCRA AGM, with 75% of the 36 clubs represented voting in favour:
“ St.Ayles skiffs have a great variety of oars and oarlock systems and feedback to the committee on balance shows a desire to move toward a more tightly specified design so that all rowers are competing with the same effective equipment. We propose that an international group be set up, to consult widely and propose a common design for oars and oarlock, to be trialled over the 2017 season with a view to reporting on any recommendations (including any recommendations for any transitional arrangements) to National Associations by October 2017.”
Consultation documents are currently being sent out, so that the group can be well informed with regard to what equipment is currently used by clubs, and what skiffies think are the most desirable characteristics of an oar and oarlock system. A good return on those consultatoins would be very much appreciated, and will help the group with their task.
By way of reassurance, there is no intention to make existing systems obsolete at at the same time as the new system is introduced. The existing measurement rules will continue in respect of existing oars and oarlocks, at least for the medium term.
The Oar and Oarlocks group will be given a fair amount of discretion in coming up with the new system. In particular they are not to be constrained by requiring to comply with the current measurement rules. If their ultimate recommended designs for oars and oarlocks are outwith the current rules, and if they are to be adopted, the measurement rules will be changed to allow the particular system to be used, in its entirety (ie oars and oarlocks together). During 2017 season, exemption certificates may be granted to clubs trying out prototypes of the new system in race situations.
If the proposals are adopted, clubs will either use the new system in its glorious and tightly specified one design entirety, or not at all. If they do not want to use the new system, it is anticipated that they can continue to use kit which complies with the current rules. It is hoped that in due course everyone will be able to use equal kit, with oars that they can make themselves, all at reasonable cost and without unreasonable technical demands.